Just as the trial of one of the men charged with the murder of
University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard was getting underway
in Laramie, WY, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (P-FOX) President
Anthony Falzarano was ending his third annual conference in
Washington, D.C. Falzarano referred in his closing address to
Matthew Shepard, saying, "...that poor unfortunate boy in, where
was it? South Dakota? That man was a predator to heterosexual men."
Thus ended a weekend filled with lies, misleading promises to
families and friends and outright bigotry toward gays and lesbians.
Thus ended a weekend filled with lies, misleading promises to families and friends and outright bigotry toward gays and lesbians.
With those words, P-FOX President Anthony Falzarano kicked off the 1999 national Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (P-FOX) Conference before a small group of about 120 people at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
P-FOX was started in 1996 by Religious Right activists from Transformation Ministries, an affiliate of the ministry for ex-gays, Exodus International and Gary Bauer's Family Research Council. The goal is to support "parents, friends, and family of loved ones struggling with homosexuality." The organization was meant to be a counter to P-FLAG, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays and they like to think of themselves as the "Al-Anon" of the ex-gay movement."
Falzarano, who noted that ex-gays are unwelcome even in many churches, declared, "If Jesus was on earth today he'd be walking in DuPont Circle to heal homosexuals." But while professing compassion for those still "in the gay lifestyle," he attacked those fighting for gay rights, saying, "The spirit of the Anti-Christ is in the gay political movement." Falzarano announced that P-FOX is planning to start reaching out to a younger audience by introducing ex-gay teens in order to prevent gay kids from ever growing up to be gay adults.
The opening talk was given by the Rev. Earl Fox, a man who claimed to be instrumental in Falzarano's "coming out of homosexuality." According to Fox, the real problems in American society began with the 1962 ruling on school prayer, and because of that, God left America to fend for itself. This, he said, led to an increase in STDs and a decline in SATs, and all the other horrors that were unleashed on America by the sexual revolution. The nation's current trend towards paganism, evidenced by the sexualized culture, has to be stopped by Christians. Christians are suited to this task, he claimed, because Christianity is what first civilized Western societies enough to allow the culture to flourish. He finished by explaining that sexual energy was not really sexual and that gays could burn off their desires in other ways, like exercise or work.
The P-FOX newsletter enclosed in the conference packets stated that the conference was being underwritten by the Family Research Council (FRC), and that the FRC had also set up a matching fund for donations from $100-$75,000. Also, FRC's Director of Development Programs sits on the board of P-FOX, which may have been one of the reasons Falzarano made many glowing references to Gary Bauer, who recently left the FRC to pursue his presidential ambitions. After the opening luncheon, Falzarano once again chastised churches and Christians in general for not embracing the ex-gay movement, saying that the ex-gay is now the leper of the church.
The next day started with Judith Reisman, Ph.D., known for her opposition towards comprehensive sex education and her crusade against sex researcher, Albert Kinsey. Reisman derided the American Psychological Association (APA) as having earned the right to represent the "Academic Pedophile Advocates." Reisman was referring to a study published in an APA publication almost a year ago that suggested that child sexual abuse is not as harmful to some children as had been thought. Reisman went on to say that it was only the fear of lawsuits over AIDS that prevented the APA from re- classifiying homosexuality as a mental illness. Those who entered the "gay lifestyle" because they believed homosexuality was not a mental illness might sue.
Falzarano returned to the podium with the big news of the day. P-FOX is currently combing the country for parents of gays who have died from AIDS in preparation for a class-action lawsuit P-FOX plans to file on their behalf against the APA holding the organization accountable for the death of their children.
Former Reagan administration ambassador and 1996 presidential candidate Alan Keyes was the conference's much-hyped "keynote speaker," coming late in the second day of the conference, after several ex-gay testimonials. He asserted that there were two matters of life and death being debated in the political forum today -- abortion and homosexuality. The gay rights movement was not about liberating people, it was about rejecting God's authority and that even if homosexuality is genetic, gays should rise above it, the way a married man rises above his desire to have sex with women other than his wife. He then took questions, which concentrated mainly on his possible presidential aspirations for 2000.
Keyes declared that while conservative Christians had not lost the Republican Party, the party leadership is a lost cause. When asked directly about his presidential intentions, Keyes stated that if the American people are as "corrupt" as the [President's popularity] polls indicate, he would not want to become the president of the United States. Nevertheless, he still urged attendees to get active on the grass roots level to build his name recognition. Anthony Falzarano took that opportunity to distribute cards promoting Keyes' radio program.
Keyes also shared his belief that the 16th amendment should be repealed, because the progressive income tax is a ball and chain on the economy and renders American citizens slaves to the government. He insisted that we cannot be free as a people as long as the government can throw us in jail for refusal to pay taxes. He also voiced support for repealing the 17th amendment so that Senators will no longer be elected by the general populace, which he says has caused Senators to "lose touch" with the people in their state. He also voiced support for two new amendments -- a right-to-life amendment rendering abortions unconstitutional and a marriage amendment to ensure that no state will ever be able to recognize same- sex marriages. The marriage amendment, he says, is necessary because the "liberal" Supreme Court will likely overturn state-level anti- same sex marriage bans.
That night, attendees heard from Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons, a clinical psychologist and a member of NARTH, the National Association for the Research and Treatment of Homosexuality. NARTH is the most prominent association promoting reparative therapy for homosexuals, that is, a group of people who still believe homosexuality to be a mental illness and continue to treat homosexuals in an effort to "cure" them. Dr. Fitzgibbons stated that homosexuality, which he calls Same Sex Attraction Disorder (because, as he says, "being gay is SSAD"), is indeed curable, and normally stems from poor eye-hand coordination, a poor relationship with the father, poor body image or sexual abuse.
He also said that many women become lesbians in their 30s because they either never married and have "given up on finding the right man" or because they have been through a divorce and are now distrustful of men. He also described hurdles to parents trying to "cure" their children of homosexuality, the most common being the notion that homosexuality is not actually mental illness and therefore, not curable. This widespread myth persists, he says, because it is easier to accept homosexuality than to deal with its painful causes.
The closing lecture that evening was given by Anthony Falzarano and was entitled "Should You Invite Your Child's Lover over for Christmas Dinner?" Falzarano immediately made P-FOX's official position on the subject clear. No, you should not have your son or daughter's partner to dinner, because it demonstrates approval of the relationship and of the "lifestyle." Falzarano went on to say that unless parents draw the line early, gay men will sneak pornography, sex toys, and other men into their parents' home behind their parents' backs. This will happen, he claims, because gays lose self- control, and will even try to seduce straight men.
Falzarano was back to present the wrap-up session Monday -- part fundraising appeal, part push for P-FOX expansion. He stated that P-FOX's current budget of $280,000 per year was insufficient for the needs of the organization and the ex-gay community. He once again stressed that churches should support P-FOX because ex-gay ministries are the only way to help the Christian families that have been cursed by homosexuality. Falzarano credited the FRC with stepping forward to help P-FOX, and said that some other large grants were in the works, but that P-FOX members must continue to tithe to P-FOX to keep the work going. In the coming year, he said he planned increase staff, and expand the P-FOX web site, and that P-FOX had been contacting churches in large cities around the country to try and set up several "mini-conferences" for the coming year. Saying that far too many parents of gays think that P-FLAG is the only support group for the parents of gays and lesbians, he urged conference attendees to start their own P-FOX chapters around the country, with a goal of 30 new chapters by 2000.
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